The president of Havas Canada explains the difference between UX and CX — and why it's important

Here at Contentful, we pride ourselves on having some really smart people on staff — we also have impressive partners with important perspectives on digital building. This week I spoke with Alex Chepovetsky, president of Havas Canada, about everything from microservices and business practices to future digital trends.

Alex knows more than a bit about strategic delivery of all digital products. He leads and collaborates with internal and external teams to define digital project objectives, set key performance metrics, establish project approaches and influence the company’s overall success. He’s on the leadership team of Havas CX, a business with 1200+ employees across 28 offices which is dedicated to delivering technology-enabled experiences. A customer experience expert with extensive knowledge and more than 25 years conquering the digital ecosystem, Alex’s contagious energy motivates his team of digital specialists every day.

Microservices have helped reinvent software development

Why do microservices matter?

Microservices have helped reinvent software development, and they are widely popular among our software developers. By allowing for increased modularity, microservices allow us to develop and build solutions in a more agile fashion. They decompose a large and complex solution into smaller, more manageable services. This enables us to operate in a continuous delivery model and get features to market faster.

In today’s business environment, change is constant and the long development cycles of earlier times are no longer palatable by business stakeholders on most engagements.  Microservices let tech businesses stay nimble as requirements continue to evolve; however, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every client or project.

How do you help CXOs think about microservices?

Microservices took the world by storm and have changed the way we look at and work with IT. Microservices aren’t a secret and have enabled companies like Netflix, Spotify and Disney to reach a superior level of agility. 

CXOs want the ability to change quickly — whether as a response to testing, or feedback from analytics, customers or market trends. Advice is simple: If you don’t want to work your way into an experience that will require a long time to change in the future, really think hard about using microservices.

If you gave headless a new name, what would it be?

That name implies something is missing. In human terms, it is missing the most important thing that coordinates and orchestrates how something works. For those taking the name literally, it can lead to a negative connotation based on the implication that there are things it couldn’t do before — even considering what it is. If you want to consider renaming it, I can put you in touch with some fine folks at Havas who specialize in naming. ;-) 

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The importance of details and metrics for digital leaders

What is something CXOs need to understand, and how do you help?

We often play the role of bridging gaps between a vision of a digital experience and internal capabilities or willingness to change. All too often, technical debt beats good intentions and age-old processes stifle meaningful change. CXOs need partners who can show their businesses the art of the possible while integrating internal teams to create an appetite to do things in a different way.  

There is a real benefit of having a trusted external partner, because they can help ease the deadlock. Our mandate is to find ways to resolve a problem and develop the best possible experience — whether that means wholesale change or working within existing constraints.

What is one metric that business leaders love but you hate?

WEBSITE TRAFFIC! Website traffic has a huge impact on business; however, not all traffic is good. Funneling all your traffic into successful conversions will generate revenue for your business. But some business leaders only focus on website traffic, which does not help in understanding the customer engagement rate and ROI. If there is a flaw in conversion strategy, the website traffic is essentially useless.

Conversions and conversion rates are still too far off from an actual transaction. That’s due to the inability of large and complex businesses to connect their public-facing website data from secure sites to the actual conversions. You can have a team investing in optimizing their conversion, but that group of site visitors could be performing poorly once passed on to another part of the conversion process. 

It is imperative that we analyze our data holistically and acknowledge all our blind spots when developing our measurement plan.

What’s one metric that you think business leaders should pay more attention to?

There are a lot of important metrics which need to be monitored.  One that I find is not scrutinized often enough — with exception of some industries — is the Net Promoter Score (NPS).  It is a great metric, which gives you a lens into the future because it measures customer loyalty and is a key driver of business growth.

The NPS model allows you to compare your brand with competitors, identify obstacles in your business model and strengthen communication with your customers.

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What is the difference between CX and UX — and does it matter?   

Yes, the differences matter. While there are key differences between CX and UX, the focus definitely needs to be on the touchpoints in each discipline. 

Digital often refers to the holistic ecosystem that includes a variety of touchpoints. In many organizations, it can straddle departments and owners from operations to IT through channel owners (including physical spaces like retail) and all the way to marketing and content teams. Because almost everything is now digital, working with that label can get all-inclusive very quickly. Hence it can be challenging to drive change in large organizations when talking “digital.”  

CX is still taking a broad view but completely through the customer lens. Unlike digital, it does not go into operational efficiencies or internal change unless it directly impacts the end experience. CX is the customer's experience with all channels under a brand or product portfolio and takes into consideration the complete customer journey, online and offline. Because of this, it has a much smaller set of organizational stakeholders. 

Narrowing it further, UX is the definition of the functional customer/user experience with a specific product. UX focuses on the use and advantage of digital components within that customer journey.

All three are correlated and interdependent. When thinking of a startup or a small organization with one app as their only product or service, all three become very similar. But if you think of a bank with multiple apps, hundreds of digital properties and touchpoints along with complex digital governance, UX becomes very different from digital.

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Contentful, from the outside

How did you hear about Contentful and why do you partner with us?

I have been using Contentful across a variety of client projects for over three years. I continue to use and recommend Contentful due to its API-first approach and strong content modeling capabilities

My clients love using Contentful because it is easy to edit and add new content to their digital experiences. With built-in support for dealing with adaptive content delivery models it is hard to go wrong. In addition to content management, the headless CMS model allows for simple yet powerful integration with almost any ecommerce platform or device.

What’s the coolest way you’ve seen Contentful implemented? 

We have designed and built several digital properties for Telus Digital and Telus Health, both public-facing and internal, on top of Contentful, and extended Contentful in some interesting ways. I would say my favorites are Telus Wise and Telus Storyhive. They are great examples of how to use the same platform to deliver completely different experiences.

What’s one thing you would like Contentful to improve from a product perspective?

I think Contentful should continue to evolve and extend the web app experience — users spending their time in the web app, so the ability to further customize and improve this would be a welcome addition.

What’s another provider that you think companies should be looking into and why?

Everyone’s needs differ, so what is a great solution for one client may not be an optimal solution for another. There are material differences by size of the organization, vertical and how they intend to use the solution. We are pretty firm about understanding our client’s needs first before choosing providers. 

Having said this, what we do look for in any existing or emerging platforms is their focus (or lack thereof) on API-first architecture and ability to integrate with other solutions and vendors. Yes, full-service stacks have their benefits in some instances, but overall, we have learned that considerations for APIs and integrations helps to hedge against the future.

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Looking toward the future of digital  

Which will be bigger in five years: AR or VR?

If I had to pick in regards to “bigger,” I’d bet on AR. It requires less specialized equipment and has a lot of broad-ranging applications that can be deployed in a much lighter way when it comes to the cost of building the experience. VR will likely find a number of niches where it is an exceptional tool, but I just don’t see proliferation of VR equipment over the next five years so that it becomes just another form factor in a design process.

If you want to speak with Alex about any of these topics — and many others — you can find him at Havas CX. Interested in joining the Contentful Partner program? Let us know

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